Turkish ministry approves disputed Zeytinburnu project, defying court decision

Turkish ministry approves disputed Zeytinburnu project, defying court decision

Ercan Sarıkaya ISTANBUL
Turkish ministry approves disputed Zeytinburnu project, defying court decision The Environment Ministry has approved the controversial plan for a new port project in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district, Zeyport, which had previously been cancelled by the Council of State over urban planners’ concerns.

The ministry has ratified the plan for a cruise and yacht port, which will be built on a 1,470,000-square-meter area and will allow the construction of buildings up to 5.5 meters high.

Land will also be reclaimed to extend the area of the project, which was suspended after a Council of State ruling ordering its cancelation.

The original design of the project developed by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality was objected to by the Chamber of Urban Planners on the grounds that it would “spoil the silhouette of Istanbul’s historical peninsula, raise the housing ratio in the area, and not have enough green space.”

The project was awarded in 2006 to joint venture of Turkish companies Rönesans and Koçhan for 49 years, in a 16.5 million-Turkish Lira tender.

The first plans had foreseen the building of hotel and commercial centers 30 to 50 meters high, but after the chamber filed a lawsuit against the project, contractors made changes to the initial design, taking the objections into consideration.

However, despite the venture saying it would decrease the height of the planned buildings to 15 to 25 meters, the Council of State ruled for the annulment of the project, citing the potential impact of the buildings on the Istanbul’s historical silhouette.

“The level of construction projected in the plans is far higher than the needs of a cruise port; some utilization areas don’t comply with the law; this form of the project could diverge it from its main purpose as a cruise port and would turn it to a tourism center, which could lead to damage to the historical texture; and buildings’ height could cause loss of the value of the historical peninsula and walls,” the court said in its reasoned decision.

Three other skyscrapers built in Zeytinburnu recently sparked huge controversy for spoiling the city’s silhouette. The construction of the 37, 32 and 27-storey buildings stirred a lively debate, as they were clearly visible in the panorama behind the Süleymaniye Mosque on the city’s historic peninsula.